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EC rejects plea for open hackthaon, AAP threatens to pull out of EVM tampering challenge

A day after the Election Commission (EC) rejected the Aam Aadmi Party’s plea to allow an open hackathon, the party said that it was unlikely to take up the challenge on the existing ‘terms and conditions’.

The party went on to accuse the EC of “running away” from a hackathon. In a letter to the poll commission, the AAP said that it was disappointed with the EC’s decision of organising a “fakeathon”, which was nothing but a “mockery of democracy”.

“Hackers are invited to test systems using any tool available. Such ethical hacking helps understand loopholes so that they can be removed,” the letter said.

Addressed to Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi, the letter came in response to the EC’s rejection of the party’s demand that it be allowed to “tamper” with motherboards of EVMs. “Why is the EC running away from a no-holds barred hackathon,” the party asked on Friday.

“You said tampering or replacing motherboards would mean that it is no longer the same device. [But] how do you know that motherboards of the existing EC machines have not been replaced or tampered with,” said the letter written by AAP national secretary Pankaj Gupta.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, meanwhile, said that a section of the media was portraying it as if the AAP was backing out of the “hackathon”. How does the question of backing out arise when the EC is not holding a “hackathon” at all, Sisodia said.

‘Is EC expecting magic?’

“Certain TV channels are running that we have backed out of the hackathon. Have a hackathon, we will participate,” he said.

“The EC is not allowing participants to touch the machine or access the motherboard. Are participants supposed to stand away and tamper with it? Is the EC expecting a magic show?” Sisodia said.

The Deputy CM added that the poll panel itself had claimed in an all-party meeting that it was not holding a hackathon, but a challenge with terms and conditions. “The EC is like the guard of a fort who is claiming that the doors are safe when it is, in fact, being invaded from all sides,” he said.

According to the EC, the EVMs would lose their originality if changes are made to the internal circuit.